Tuesday, January 6, 2009

DC Teacher Chic Packs It In

We were sorry, but not surprised earlier in the fall when our fellow blogger from the trenches -- DC Teacher Chic -- quit her teaching job in the middle of the year, and we're even sadder now that she has decided to leave education completely to take a job in another field. It makes us wonder why it is that some people come in to teaching with all the answers and then stay such a short time. Its not at all clear that DCPS is doing right by kids if it recruits people into teaching who don't stick around. We frequently disagreed with Ms. Chic, and found her cavalier attitude insulting to hard-working, award-winning teachers. Many of the teachers and parents who are members of the team who post here argued openly with comments on her blog. Nevertheless, authentic teacher voices are few and far between, so her blog will be missed. A voice from the trenches with a bit more respect for the difficult craft of teaching would be welcome as a replacement. We wish Ms. Chic more success in her new line of work.


Ame in DC said...

Sorry, but I am tired of people who don't keep their commitments to children pointing fingers at those of us that have. There was a time when less-experienced workers respected those that had more time and knowledge -- I know I did. I won't miss the self-serving tone, either. Just bein' honest.

DC Teacher Chic said...

Oh, what I nice blog entry! Thanks you guys. Someone suggested to me that I offer to give the blog to someone else, rather than shut it down, and that sounded like a good idea to me. So I am inviting interested parties to email me if they would like to take over the blog. I understand that being the new "DC Teacher Chic" would be abhorrent to most of your readers, but I thought I'd let you know nonetheless. You can read more about it on my blog.

lodesterre said...

I think the real pity here is that her blog could have been a valuable, ongoing forum in which issues were truly debated thereby testing the validity of some of the arguments made on that blog. Unfortunately such a discussion never was really permitted to foster. Instead of being a moderator Chic was a cheerleader. Instead of framing the comments as a way of seeing different perspectives and perhaps coming to some sort of, if not understanding, at least respect for different opinions, Chic promoted and encouraged an either/or atmosphere. True dialogue did happen on that blog but it was in spite of her efforts not because of her efforts. Yes, she allowed posts to remain that didn't agree with her position but go through that blog and read her responses to many of those posts and you come away with the feeling that Ame in DC is right: she was self-serving, judgemental and condescending towards any opinion that did not promote Michelle Rhee as the savior of us all.

I think, ultimately, Ame's comment about people who don't keep commitments and finger pointing are all too well deserved. A careful reading of Chic's blog from the first post to the last, keeping in mind the time period in which it was written (we are talking less than two years), leaves one the feeling that this is a person of enthusiasms not deeply held beliefs. Enthusiasts can be passionate about what they do and they can certainly seem to care deeply but the commitment to what they are enthusiastic about isn't really there. When things become difficult or, to them, unnecessarily troublesome they flit to the next enthusiasm in search of their "passion". I am always reminded of Toad from Toad Hall in Wind in the Willows - caravans one day, motorcars the next. If someone is going to lead the discussion in the blog world on where are schools should be going, and if that person is also going to be a spokesperson-by-default as Chic so often was for the lazy journalists of our current world, than it should be someone who has actually stuck to what they were doing and where they were doing it for more than a year and a half (she never stayed at any one of her 6+ schools for more than two years from what I can tell).

I hope that whoever takes over the blog, and I do hope that someone does, that they act as a true moderator, allowing voices to be heard, cultivating a true dialogue in which we learn from each other. Traditional and alternate path teachers have more to offer each other than was ever reflected in that blog. Let's hope that this happens.

Anonymous said...

lodesterre- Excellent points.
What I found troubling about DC Chic and similarly the mindset of Rhee is the disdainful attitude towards most teachers. Look in the mirror.

In the end DC Chic let her near obsession with Rhee blind her from taking an honest look at her own situation. Rhee's tunnel vision focus on busting the Union and closing schools her first year and a half left a lot of huge problems within DCPS unaddressed. In addition to many schools starting the year off with a shortage of teachers, not enough books, renovations not yet completed, etc Rhee failed to address the serious issues of aggressive and disruptive students in schools. Of course professional development in this area is a joke so you have DC Chic in a classroom of 5th grade students and a handful are tormenting her and disrupting the entire classroom's learning. Yet she blames the principal instead of Rhee. This is a problem that is and has been occurring in classrooms in DC schools across the City. But it is only now that Rhee is starting to hold community meetings to discuss the issues of discipline and safety.

I also thought DC Chic’s vitriolic attacks on anyone who made a typo or grammatical error a bit off-putting to say the least.

DC Teacher Chic said...

Oh, I dig the snarky edit! Well- played. I wonder if the original writer of the post appreciated the editor totally changing the tone and purpose of the post itself. Sigh, they just couldn't save it for the comments section. Sad.

Anonymous said...


What are you talking about? I don't understand your comment. What "snarky edit?"

DC Teacher Chic said...

The post was made by one author and edited afterward to completely change the tone and intent of the post. I have no idea who wrote the original post, but I have a pretty good idea who edited it.

lodesterre said...

I saw this post pretty much the first day it was posted. It has not changed. Your reading of it, Chic, did change I think after you read some of the comments and probably went back and took a more careful look at the original post. Why you would expect something different given the way you have consistently denigrated this group in your blog is beyond me. This group is more diverse and more open-minded than you have ever given them credit for. I am not a member of this group but I find their blog to be a better view of the kind of teachers in our system who want to see more effective, substantial change. You see the difference here is that this group actually wants to have a dialogue, not a monologue. They are more concerned about their students, their schools and this system than they are about their "readership", how often they get mentioned in the press, and how many hits they get. When you have been faced with this kind of criticism elsewhere your response has been more than "snarky" (to use your own terminology)it has been childish - usually along the lines of "this blogger wishes they had as many hits on their site as I do on mine" "I have three times the readership" etc, etc, ad nauseam. The more I have read your blog the more I came away with the sense that you were a dilettante - a person dabbling at things. You have your excuses for jumping from school to school but in my experience dilettantes always have their excuses lined up like ducks - "this wasn't right, that wasn't right, I needed a change". In your blog you either love teaching or you're wondering where you will go next. Poor Glenn Watson, who took a lot of beatings on your site for his errors in spelling and grammar, had it right: he said you would probably leave teaching and become an "expert" on education working as a consultant. I hope you are truly out of the education field, personally, because education doesn't need dilettantes. We need open-minded, thoughtful, dedicated people who understand that education is about the children, it is about shaping them into responsible adults, it is about our future.

I thought the blog post here was more than fair to you. They showed where they disagreed with you and gave you your due as a fellow teacher. They gave you that respect, something that was in short supply on your blog and in your comments elsewhere about other teachers.

Is there some anger coming from me? Yes there is. You were represented in the press as a spokesperson for many teachers. Often those articles would use you as the sole source of information about what teachers in DCPS think. That was a disservice to us all. It did nothing but foster the Washington Posts short-sighted advocacy for Rhee's contract.

We never had the debate on that contract that should have taken place, a debate that would have informed us all to make a better decision about that contract. Instead we were given a black/white (tone, not race)view of the contract and the words "trust me".

For all the talk that your blog gave about the contract you would think there were more than a 100 teachers who were openly for it. Yet, when you posted an online petition to the WTU to demand a vote on the contract you got no more than 60 signatures. When Rhee met with teachers who were for the contract no more than 30 showed up. This then was the voice of DC Teachers - a body of more than 4000 members. That was just plain wrong.

To me a teacher is more than just someone who has the certificate and is in the classroom. For me a teacher is someone who understands that their job does not really end at the classroom door. That their job requires them to advocate for their children even if that means staying in a bad situation (and please spare me the list of ills suffered from your job - you simply should never have taken on teaching as a career if you had such a poor constitution). For those who would say that "no teacher should have to put up with [fill in the blank here]. I say that YES a teacher does have to put up with it. A teacher has to deal with all sorts of things in this day and age. Chic didn't choose the straight education path, she didn't go through an education department, get her degree and find herself a nice suburban school where the biggest problems are cheating on tests and what Tiffany said to Charlotte on the playground. She chose TFA and TFA, like DCTF, requires their teachers to go into some of the worst schools with situations that are not so easy to deal with. You know going in that there is the possibility of being hit (I have more than once), hurt (ditto), and accused of things you did not do. You know that you are going into a chaotic, dysfunctional (more-so than not) situation. You deal with bad teachers, bad principals and parents who don't deserve the name. And you persevere. You persevere because that is often the most important lesson you are teaching these children - that you simply do not quit when things get tough. Teaching is a vocation, not a job.

For six years you flitted to seven different schools. Each position didn't last much longer than your time as a blogger. Now you are flitting to something else. When your enthusiasm wears off you will flit elsewhere bringing along with you the condescending, all-knowing attitude and overindulged belief in yourself that has done you so well in the past. Glenn Watson will still be teaching. So will many other, dedicated professionals. Professional is something I just do not believe you are.

Real Ed Reform DC said...

In response to DC Teacher Chic's comment, we do not edit other people's posts. Any edits on this blog are made by the original posting individual.